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Mayors meet with senior White House officials over migrant influx Thursday

By Priscilla Alvarez and Camila DeChalus, CNN

(CNN) — The mayors of Denver and Chicago met with senior White House officials on Thursday to discuss the influx of migrant arrivals in their cities, according to a White House spokesperson.

Over the last year, the White House has come under increasing criticism from local officials across the country over the growing number of migrants at the US-Mexico border, which has stressed relationships with Democratic allies nationwide.

Tom Perez, White House intergovernmental affairs director, has been in close touch with mayors in recent months who are concerned over the growing number of migrant arrivals in their cities and the strain it’s placed on limited resources. The mayors met with Perez and White House chief of staff Jeff Zients while at the White House Thursday, according to a source familiar with the meeting

New York City Mayor Eric Adams was invited but did not attend. “The mayor is returning to New York City to address a matter. These meetings will be rescheduled as soon as possible,” a spokesperson for the mayor told CNN.

The meetings with senior officials follow rising tensions between mayors and the White House over the past few months as mayors in Democratic cities are angrily demanding more engagement from Biden to help deal with the wave of migrants seeking asylum. Since Biden took office, his administration has grappled with record migrant arrivals at the US southern border amid unprecedented migration in the Western hemisphere. On Friday, Biden is meeting with Western hemisphere leaders to discuss migration, among other issues.

The Biden administration has distributed more than $1 billion in grant funding to local communities and has requested additional funding in the White House supplemental request, according to the spokesperson. The Department of Homeland Security has also dispatched teams to cities to provide assistance.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, along with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, confronted top White House officials last month on a conference call, demanding they take fast and concrete steps to address a migrant crisis they believe is reaching a breaking point in the state.

Adams has continued to be highly critical and has slammed the administration’s response to the arrival of migrants as New York City has become the epicenter of the crisis.

Central to what Adams has asked for is expediting work authorizations, so that people who are already in New York City would be able to get legal jobs and wouldn’t be forced to rely on the social safety net.

But the process for applying for asylum and a work permit is based on current immigration laws, which require a 150-day waiting period to apply for work authorization and an additional 30 days to be eligible for approval –- and in recent years, it’s been made more difficult because of an immense backlog. The Biden administration is working with the city to expand a work authorization clinic to help migrants apply for work permits.

“Starting this week, the Biden-Harris Administration, in partnership with New York City and New York State, will be scaling operations of its first-of-its-kind work authorization clinic to help thousands of migrants living in New York’s shelter system apply for work permits,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“We look forward to our continued partnership with cities and states across the country and continue to call on Congress to reform our broken immigration system,” the spokesperson added.

Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles are among a host of other cities grappling with arrivals.

Migrants apprehended at the border can be placed in a fast-track deportation process, voluntarily return to Mexico, be detained, or be released from custody as they go through their immigration proceedings.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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